Whether by design or mere coincidence it was noticeable that the Prime Minister Dr. Abdalla Hamdok met Dr. Ghazi Salahuddin, the Islamist figure, on the very day the Professionals Association (PA) called for a nationwide demonstrations to urge the government to speed up its efforts in completing its transitional duties. The meeting raises question marks about the moving sands in the country’s political landscape.
It was the first public meeting between the face of change and the government and any Islamist figure, since Islamists were shunned by Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC). Salahuddin heads the Reform Now Movement, a breakaway from the defunct National Congress Party (NCP), but despite his criticism to the way NCP have been ruling the country that meeting was met by dissatisfaction by many of the government supporters, who don’t want anything to do with the Islamists at least during the transitional period.
However, Thursday’s demonstrations sent a signal that some currents within FFC are shaping up that may result into some changes. Though demonstrations were carried out in a number of cities across the country, but volumes of participants are no way to match the claim that millions of people will march. More important is the clear divisions from some members of FFC who did not participate in these demonstrations and have called on the PA to reconsider the move. That in itself was indicative since the main call for those demonstrations came from the PA, not from FFC.
It was noticeable the tweet sent by Hamdok, who commended the role played by the professionals and called on “unity of all revolution forces to enable the country to abridge this period safely”.
The demonstrations carried out raises some central questions like why resort to pressures using these methods at the time the government is set up by FFC including the PA? Why can’t FFC sit with the government to sort out problems and how to face up to them? On the table are issues that needs brain storming, work out solutions and intellectual exercise more than shouting in demonstrations.
However, this is one of the symptoms where deep below the surface lies the complicated issues related to the transitional period. Sudan in fact has a history of going through transitional periods four times in the past. The first dates back to the period before independence between 1954-1956 in preparing for independence, the second followed the popular uprising of 1964; the third followed the second popular uprising of 1985 and the fourth the extended 6-year period 2005-2011 that followed the peace agreement between NCP and the SPLM and was supposed to lay the foundations for the country’s transformation, but ended up without securing peace or unity of the country.
All these transitional periods failed to further the issue of nation building. The first three transitional experiences were concerned mainly with the procedural aspect of democracy that is simply to carry out elections, install a mandated government, who was supposed to handle the thorny issues facing the country.
What happened in effect is that weak, coalition governments were installed and none of them was able to survive through the end of its parliamentary mandate and at the time things continue to deteriorate in every aspect of life paving the way for yet another military take-over.
Trying to make use of previous lessons FFC insisted and managed this time to convince the military to have an extended three years transitional period so as to dismantle the deposed regime and lay the foundations for democratic transformation.
However, the challenges facing the current transitional period exceed by far challenges faced by the previous periods from peace to economy to overhauling the state apparatus. Unlike the previous experiences where the army was intact and a unified force, this time there were three forces: the army, the Rapid Support Forces and the security that used to have combat forces as well, all were reflected in the composition of the transitional military council that took over from the Ingaz regime.
With the shifting sands and mounting problems, security was reduced to only collecting and analyzing information, while various components of FFC are yet to connect with their constituencies and the professionals need to have a fresh mandate from their bases, the need emerges more and more for a more unified domestic front. And that meeting between Hamdok and Salahuddin could be a signal in the direction.
E N D